Every once in a while, at a convention in San Diego or New York City, when people learn I live in Geneva, NY they look at me and then ask, “Ah, why?” I tell them, “Much like singer John Cougar Mellencamp I grew up in a small town. He brought a lovely LA lady to his small town. I brought a lovely lady from Costa Rica to my small town. Mellencamp wrote a song about his experience. I got made fun of on national radio by the Tap it Brothers (Click and Clack) for taking that lady from Costa Rica and bringing her to Upstate NY. But I still don’t regret it at all.”
I then I list many of the reasons why I enjoy living in a small town. Geneva offers a lot for its size. I’m big on science and education. We have three college campuses: Hobart and William Smith has their main campus here. Finger Lakes Community College has a campus in Geneva. Cornell’s AgriTech (still often lovingly referred to as the Experiment Station) also is based here. A lot of the research done here relates to agriculture and viticulture.
This in turn helps foster a growing wine and foodie culture. Geneva is becoming a foodie destination. Just take a stroll downtown especially on the weekends when Linden Avenue is closed to traffic. You’ll find BBQ, fried chicken, Asian, Italian, Tai, Mexican, Indian, pizza, wings and other fine foods, the works. Drive uptown and you’ll find many more great choices ranging from fast foods to upscale. Restaurants give us both nutrition and just importantly, if not more, human interaction (albeit limited interaction these days). Drinks and food and hanging out with other humans bring us comfort and happiness.
Another advantage of living in a small town is everybody either knows everybody or somebody who knows everybody. For instance, a while back our niece from Costa Rica house-sat for a friend. She needed the police and when they showed up they knew she was, “from Costa Rica and lived with her aunt from Costa Rica who was a professor at Cornell married to that Zakour guy who plays softball and writes comics.” (Perhaps the most apt description of me ever.)
Our niece learned: News travels fast in a smaller town. Of course, there are times when this might not be good, but I choose to believe it often comes in handy. Like if you need somebody to do something there is always somebody who knows that somebody you need. Then you can get a personal review, kind of like a very interactive Yelp.
I also find there is less pressure living in a small town, mainly because getting from place to place is less stressful. Once while living in San Jose, Costa Rica one of our friends got stopped in a traffic jam. He left his car, walked to our house and got back to his car before traffic moved. While living near Fresno, Calif. we often spent more time sitting in our car than moving in our car. Longer commutes certainly add to stress and reduce happiness. (This isn’t just anecdotal, many studies support this.)
The great thing about a small town is we are pretty much literally 5-12 minutes away from everything — the hospital, Wegmans, movies, schools, restaurants, HWS, FLCC, AgriTech, the lake front, baseball fields and tennis courts. It really does make life simpler and at least for me, simpler is better.